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Health and Social Services

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Québec has a number of programs whose purpose is to ensure the welfare of its residents, particularly as regards health and social services. Health and social services are of paramount importance to Québec residents. For the individual, they are a guarantee of security in case of disease or a health or social problem. For the society, they represent a major force for progress and social justice. These services are mainly funded by the overall budget of the Government of Québec. In 2004-2005, 37% of this budget was allocated to health and social services.

The MSSS and its network offer health and social services to the entire population of Québec: children, adolescents, adults, seniors, families and other specific groups.

The following is an overview of the main activities of the network in 2003-2004:

  • Over 6 million people received medical care (about 80% of the population).
  • Over 3.2 million people—that is, about 1.8 million policy holders, 540,600 employment assistance recipients and 909,500 seniors—were covered by the public part of the basic prescription drug insurance plan, which offers prescription drug coverage to the entire population of Québec.
  • Nearly 2 million people were vaccinated.
  • Over 735,000 people were admitted to a general and specialized hospital centre (CHSGS); of these, 12.3% were admitted for mental health problems.
  • Over 465,000 people benefited from surgeries, of which 60% were day surgeries.
  • Over 270,000 people (including 136,000 frail individuals) received homecare.
  • Over 40,000 people were provided with care in residential and long-term care center (CHSLDs).
  • Nearly 32,000 people resided in intermediate or family resources, including 9,800 young people living in foster homes.
  • About 22,000 young people were taken into care in youth center as a result of the follow-up of 29,000 of the 62,000 reports processed.
  • Nearly 62,000 people received rehabilitation services for physical impairments.
  • About 27,000 people benefited from rehabilitation services for cognitive impairments.
  • About 25,000 people benefited from rehabilitation services for alcohol and drug abuse.
  • About 4,200 people received help for compulsive gambling.

(Translated from the Rapport annuel de gestion [annual management report] 2003-2004)

Québec’s Health and Social Services System

The Québec health and social services system is recognized for the broad range of services it offers. Its organization has three main characteristics, making it a unique health care model.

First, health and social services in Québec have been integrated under unified administration since 1971. This characteristic enables Québec’s system to meet all of the population’s health needs and sets Québec apart from other Canadian provinces.

Second, the Québec health care system is under public control. The Government defines its scope, finances service production and implementation, and determines equitable-based conditions of access. In 1961, the introduction of hospital insurance marked the beginning of the public health care system, with universal access to free hospital services. In 1971, a universal health insurance program gave the entire population free access to medical care and services from physicians in private practices. Finally, a universal prescription drug insurance program was added in 1997. This new joint program based on a partnership between the Government and private insurers offers prescription drug insurance to all Québec residents, regardless of their age, income or state of health.

The third exclusive characteristic of Québec’s health care system is that it is divided into three levels: central, regional and local.

At the central level, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) establishes overall orientations and allocates budgetary resources. In addition, the MSSS assesses the results obtained in the entire health care network in light of the objectives set.

At the regional level, the health and social services agencies are charged with regional planning, resource management and budget allocation to institutions.

At the local level, the 95 health and social services center established in June 2004 and their partners in local services networks (such as family physicians and institutions offering specialized services) share a collective responsibility for the population on their local territories, which they fulfill within a clinical and organizational project. Thus, the various caregivers offering health and social services to a given population are able to meet all of its needs and make it easier for people to move through the system, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

In October 2004, Québec’s health and social services network was made up of 322 institutions, of which 199 were public. The other 123 institutions are private; nearly all of these are residential and long-term care center. The public institutions are located throughout the province of Québec in order to share resources equitably based on the population served. Thus, each of the 18 public health regions has one or more of the following: health and social services center, hospitals, rehabilitation center, and child and youth protection center. Moreover, five institutions are university hospital center (UHCs) and five others are affiliated university hospital center (AUHCs). Three health and social center also have a university designation. Finally, seven institutions are university institutes (UIs): four in the health sector and three in the social services sector.

Added to these are some 1,500 private medical clinics and 4,000 community organizations. Nearly 7% of Québec’s active workers, i.e., about 250,000 people, are employed in the health and social services sector.

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